Even though most workstations have only one network interface card (NIC), it’s not uncommon for servers to have multiple NICs. Multiple NICs give servers the ability to do such things as segment a network, act as a router, and increase bandwidth on a network. No matter what your reason for using multiple NICs, you need to know how to set up the networking parameters for your servers. In this Daily Feature, I’ll show you how to configure additional network adapters under Windows 2000.

Author’s Note

In this Daily Feature, I won’t explain how to physically install additional NICs in your server. Doing so is beyond the scope of this Daily Feature. Rather, I’m just going to show you the software configurations you must make to let multiple NICs work in your server.

The boot sequence
For my example, I installed a NETGEAR FA311 network adapter in my server. Adding a second network adapter to your server is just like adding any other expansion card to your Windows 2000 server. After installing the additional NIC, Windows 2000 Server will detect that there is a new piece of hardware immediately after you first log in. Windows 2000 will use its Plug And Play capability to identify the new NIC. After identifying the NIC, Windows 2000 will tell you that it already has a driver for the device, or it will ask you where it should look for a driver.

After adding the driver for the NIC, the adapter is ready for my use on the network. To configure the new NIC, open the Network Control Panel by clicking Start | Settings | Control Panel | Network And Dial-Up Connections. You’ll see the Network And Dial-Up Connections screen showing the two adapters, as shown in Figure A.

Figure A
The network control panel now shows two adapters.

You may notice in the figure that my network connections are named after their locations on the system rather than the default Local Area Connection label that Microsoft uses. Your server probably shows Local Area Connection 1, Local Area Connection 2, etc. In my career, I’ve managed racks full of servers that each had a minimum of three network adapters, with each connection on a separate network. Imagine how confusing it would be if these connections were simply named Local Area Connection 1, 2, 3, and so on.

I make it a policy to rename each and every server network connection with its function. For example, the network adapter that handles VPN connections has a label of “VPN,” while the other adapter is labeled “Internal network.” While I realize that some folks would consider this violating the “security through obscurity” rule, I find that, at times, ease of administration takes priority. Renaming a network connection is as simple as right-clicking on it and choosing Rename from the shortcut menu.

If I had a DHCP server on the network that this new NIC was connected to, it would have assigned an IP address to this NIC. As a rule, I don’t use DHCP-assigned addresses on servers, but instead, I always use static IP addresses. To assign a static IP address to an adapter, double-click the adapter and choose Properties. Input the appropriate information into the various boxes, and click OK to save the settings.

I also find it useful to have an icon in the desktop tray on my servers for each of my NICs. It provides a quick and easy way to get to the settings for a particular network adapter. To enable this functionality, check the box marked Show Icon In Taskbar When Connected, as shown in Figure B.

Figure B
You can enable the desktop tray icon in TCP/IP properties.

When you assign static IP addresses to separate NICs, you need to take care when selecting the IP address to assign. The IP address you choose will depend on your overall network design. You may also find yourself dealing with TCP/IP subnetting. For more information about addressing and subnetting, see the Daily Drill Down “Subnet a Class A network with ease.”

Once you’ve assigned TCP/IP addresses to both adapters, you can get a quick overview of all of your system’s TCP/IP parameters by typing ipconfig /all. When you do, you’ll see output similar to Listing A.

Windows 2000 wrap up
That’s all there is to it! Adding a network adapter in today’s modern operating systems is a far cry from what it used to be like. Using multiple NICs in Windows 2000 Server is truly an easy task, and it provides you with a great deal of flexibility in what you can connect to and how you can connect to it.